Snub of the year? It might be Jamie Byrd
The release of the coaches All-American Athletic Conference team earlier today elicited a pair of conflicting general reactions from USF's fan base.
The first was validation over the selection of eight Bulls, a program record in a season rife with them. Then came the vitriol.
Where's Jamie Byrd? Where's Quinton Flowers? Alas, where's the justice?
Based on the outcry in cyberspace, the dual snub of Byrd and Flowers nearly overshadowed an otherwise prosperous day for the Bulls, who boasted two first-team picks (1,000-yard rusher Marlon Mack, CB Deatrick Nichols).
Surely, any coach who faced the Bulls or studied their films (which is to say, all of them) recognized Byrd and Flowers' respective skill sets and value to the team. Byrd already has been invited to the East-West Shrine Game, and Flowers set a Bulls single-season record with 31 touchdowns (21 pass, 10 rush).
So why no love?
In Flowers' case, it was a numbers game. At a position clogged with exceptional performers, he got squeezed out. No way were coaches going to elevate him above fringe Heisman Trophy candidate Keenan Reynolds of Navy (AAC Offensive Player of the Year), arguably the greatest triple-option quarterback ever.
And while Flowers' pass-efficiency rating (152.6) was comparable to first-teamer Paxton Lynch of Memphis (166.2) and second-teamer Greg Ward Jr. of Houston (158.6), Ward had slightly better passing and rushing numbers; and Lynch's passing stats (305.8 ypg, 28 TDs) clearly outshined Flowers' (168.6 ypg, 21 TDs).
But Byrd's another story.
The senior from Pasco High was among four players in the conference to finish in the top 15 in tackles (80), sacks (five) and tackles for loss (nine solo, two assists). Two of them -- Houston linebackers Steven Taylor and Elandon Roberts -- made the team.
Presumption is, Byrd didn't fit into the preconceived box of the all-conference team, which featured four down linemen, four linebackers, two cornerbacks and two safeties on both the first and second teams. As a husky in the Bulls' 4-2-5 scheme, Byrd was neither a safety, linebacker nor corner. At one point or another, he was all of them.
But not even an honorable mention?
A case for Quinton?
While few will reasonably dispute the selection of Navy QB Keenan Reynolds as AAC Offensive Player of the Year, the numbers posted by USF's Quinton Flowers this season were slightly better.
Total yards TDs Team offense Team ppg
Reynolds 2,057 25 420.5 ypg 37.5
Flowers 2,906 31 428.7 ypg 33.5